How Do Companies Make Money with Linux?

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Open source enthusiasts believe that better software can result from an open source software development model than from proprietary development models. So in theory, any company creating software for its own use can save money by adding its software contributions to those of others to gain a much better end product for themselves. Companies that want to make money selling software need to be more creative than they did in the old days. While you can sell the software you create that includes GPL software, you must pass the source code of that software forward. Of course, others can then recompile that product, basically using your product without charge. Here are a few ways that companies are dealing with that issue:

• Software subscriptions—Red Hat, Inc. sells its Red Hat Enterprise Linux products on a subscription basis. For a certain amount of money per year, you get binary code to run Linux (so you don’t have to compile it yourself), guaranteed support, tools for tracking the hardware and software on your computer, and access to the company’s knowledge base. While Red Hat’s Fedora project includes much of the same software and is also available in binary form, there are no guarantees associated with the software or future updates of that software. A small office or personal user might take the risk on Fedora (which is itself an excellent operating system), but a big company that’s running mission-critical applications will probably put down a few dollars for RHEL.

• Donations—Many open source projects accept donations from individuals or open source companies that use code from their projects. Amazingly, many open source projects support one or two developers and run exclusively on donations.

• Bounties—Software bounties are a fascinating way for open source software companies to make money. Let’s say that you are using XYZ software package and you need a new feature right away. By paying a software bounty to the project itself, or to other software developers, you can have your needed improvements moved to the head of the queue. The software you pay for will remain covered by its open source license, but you will have the features you need, at probably a fraction of the cost of building the project from scratch.

• Boxed sets, mugs, and T-shirts—Many open source projects have online stores where you can buy boxed sets (some people still like physical CDs and hard copies of documentation) and a variety of mugs, T-shirts, mouse pads, and other items. If you really love a project, for goodness sake, buy a T-shirt!

This is in no way an exhaustive list, because more creative ways are being invented every day to support those who create open source software. Remember that many people have become contributors to and maintainers of open source software because they needed or wanted the software themselves. The contributions they make for free are worth the return they get from others who do the same.

Source of Information : Linux Bible 2008 Edition

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